Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blissful Byodo-In

I sighed with relief once I entered this pocket of serenity on the island of Oahu.  Two days of fighting bumper to bumper traffic, excessive heat and the realization that a once dreamy Honolulu now resembled Singapore with banks and designer stores on every corner left me upset and depressed.  Had I made a mistake returning to Hawaii after all these years?

 But all that changed when I entered these beautiful grounds.  Here at the Valley of the Temples, nestled at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains lies this small-scale replica of a United Nations World Heritage Site--the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple of Uji, Japan.   This temple, however, is a non-practicing one.  It is open to the public of all faiths and meant to be a place of meditation, peace and happiness.  It was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

I rang the brass Sacred Bell with the large swinging log.  Its deep tone is said to wipe away all negativity and to clear one's mind.  For me, it made me smile.  As did the thousands of colorful koi in the surrounding ponds.  

I continued to walk the lushly landscaped grounds.  I lit incense in front of the giant Buddha.  I made a solemn vow not to let the stampede of humanity get to me.  Perhaps Oahu was no longer the paradise of yore, but there is still peace and beauty to be found here.  It just takes a bit more effort to seek it out.      

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